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BoldVoice's accent coaches help nonnatives speak with clarity

English may be the world's most widely spoken language, but for the vast majority of speakers, it's not their native tongue — roughly 65 million nonnative English speakers live in the United States alone. To help them find their voice and make themselves understood, a new app combines video lessons with interactive training.

BoldVoice's two Hollywood voice coaches teach the physical skills needed for correct pronunciation. The pupil is then given words and phrases to speak into their phone's microphone, and the app uses AI to provide instant feedback on a granular level: it indicates exactly which consonants or vowels need work, and which were pronounced perfectly. Daily lesson plans are tailored to a user's native language and to their goals — for example, whether they're working on their accent for job interviews or for social settings.

Accent training doesn't mean erasing identity. As BoldVoice points out, people are perfectly capable of adapting the way they speak to a different context or audience, much like actors do when learning a new accent for a role. Learners can preserve their accent and background, but choose to speak differently as needed to reach their goals. It's all about empowering people to express themselves with confidence and clarity.

The startup, whose two founders both have immigrant backgrounds, is in Y Combinator's Summer 21 batch.

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By last count, there were 272 million immigrants around the world, and that number is likely to climb as the climate crisis pushes people out of their livelihoods and home countries. How can your brand ease their transition in a way that's both respectful and truly helpful?